What’s in a name? As silly as Tank! Tank! Tank! sounds (exclamation points and all), you know exactly what you’re getting when you pick it up: lots and lots of tanks. I haven’t played a good tank game in a while, and the most recent one I can think of that I can recall vividly is Battletanx on the Nintendo 64. Of course, good is a relative term when describing that title, but the point I’m trying to make is, there is an alarming shortage of games that focus on these crawling masses of destruction.
Perhaps what interests me more is the potential for a game like this to use the Wii U gamepad to do some neat things. An instrument panel on the touchscreen? A microphone for voice commands? Maybe use it in conjunction with the Wii remote and nunchuk to form some kind of crazy Steel Battalion setup? Okay, the last part may be a bit much, but you can see where I’m going with this. Unfortunately, none of these things are available, though there are at least lots of tanks, as advertised.
Tank! Tank! Tank! is based on an arcade title of the same name, and as such, there isn’t so much a plot as there are random missions strung together by a common theme and given by the same individuals. Every mission is a robotic something attacking the city, be it a gorilla, swarm of bees, or a giant three-headed sea dragon that’s so prominently featured in the promotional materials for this game. Not that this kind of party-style gameplay needs a good reason to blow stuff up in order to enjoy it, but considering the main mode is called â€œStory Missionâ€, it bears mentioning.
While the Story mode only supports two players, the other modes can be enjoyed by up to four. There’s Monster Battle, which places all four players on a team and sends them into mini-campaigns where the objective is to eliminate all of the monsters. Player One must use the gamepad while the other three use Wii remotes and have the television divided into three sections. There’s also Free For All and Team Versus, in which both modes encourage the players to demolish each other, except the latter forms them into teams. The last mode, My Kong, is the most unique, and actually takes advantage of the Wii U gamepad in a creative way. In it, the gamepad user is in control of a giant gorilla (with his or her face plastered on it via the controller’s built in camera) and must crush the other players in control of tanks. The gorilla has several moves at its disposal that each have a cooldown period, and include things such as a sledgehammer attack, smashing the ground, or a leaping hip drop. You can even power up by shaking the tablet.
Story/Modes Rating: Above Average
The visuals are incredibly colorful for a game about blowing stuff up, but everything from how the tanks themselves look to how some of the creatures move and interact is incredibly exaggerated, like a Saturday morning cartoon. It reminded me of Cel Damage in a way, though not quite as over the top as that title was. While it’s still not a game a person could point to and use as an example of the type of power one can extract from the Wii U, it does well in creating a fun, laid back atmosphere for the player to engage in some endless destruction with their friends.
Perhaps most amusing of all is being able to fire at random buildings in the city and watch as them crumble at the result of your own actions. Giant girders and debris tear off as you fire shots into most structures, and continuous hits will eventually cause the whole thing to collapse. It’s not quite as satisfying as Battletanx‘s ability to cause buildings to literally melt under a minimal barrage of gunfire, but it’s up there.
Graphics Rating: Decent
There are two commanding officers that repeatedly give you objectives at the start of your missions, which fulfill their roles well and don’t come off as cheesy as one might expect in such an arcade-like title. That said, leave it to the announcer to pick up the slack in that department, as he will constantly announce everything that happens, from you picking up a new weapon or your partner getting captured. You get used to it after awhile, though it can be a bit much to hear the same lines over and over again.
The soundtrack is one befitting of a game about blowing up monsters and knocking down buildings. The versus screen preceding each match gets you pumped up for the chaos to follow, and the tracks that blast out of your speakers during the actual bouts with monsters are similarly upbeat. You likely won’t notice with all of the explosions going on around you though, which isn’t a bad thing in this case.
Sound Rating: Above Average
Like most games that are played with a controller using two joysticks, a directional pad, four shoulder buttons and four face buttons, I prepared myself for the inevitably long tutorial in the first mission. This was not to be. Why? Because I’ll tell you in one sentence exactly how to play. Are you ready for it?
Use the left joystick to move and any button on the controller to shoot.
That’s it. Tank! Tank! Tank! is officially the easiest game on the Wii U to learn and control right now. However, this level of simplicity brings with it another problem: there is little depth to the gameplay. In fact, it cheapens it a little. Since the main gun on your tank and the movement are controlled by the same input, it means you can’t move one direction and shoot in another. Since every weapon you pick up replaces the one you are currently using, you can’t stockpile weapons or save one to be used in a more ideal situation. Since every tank moves and shoots the exact same way, the ability to allow a secondary function for specific tanks is squandered. The list goes on and on.
This isn’t to say the gameplay in Tank! Tank! Tank! isn’t fun. On the contrary, it’s an incredibly hectic affair that is further enjoyed by the presence of a friend or three. Every time you accept a mission, you are given the opportunity to select a tank that not only has a different arsenal of weapons that it can equip, but different stats that are built for different purposes. If you happen to have a second player with you, they are restricted to the default tank, unfortunately. Each mission has you facing down a group of enemies or a boss which you must destroy within the time limit. As you blow things up, power-ups drop that give you access to one of two alternate weapons. One is typically a weapon that has a fair amount of ammo to it and is stronger than your main cannon, such as a shotgun or machine gun, while the other is typically a rocket or some form of bomb that you only have one or two shots for but does an insane amount of damage. When you pick one up, you drop whatever one you are currently carrying, so you can only use one weapon at any given time. Picking them up also increases your health somewhat, as having your tank destroyed depletes from your stock of lives.
After a successful mission, you are graded on your performance. Depending on how well you did, the particular tank you are using may level up, increasing its health, weapon damage, or even stock of lives that it starts out with. In fact, if you hit a wall with a particular mission while using a certain tank, you can go back and replay missions to earn more experience.
Control/Gameplay Rating: Mediocre
Tank! Tank! Tank! is highly replayable given its status as an arcade game. But (and you’re going to want to read all of this), it bears mentioning that not everyone enjoys repeated content and would instead like to see all that a game has to offer before making the determination whether to play it again or not. Well, this game decided to make that decision for you, and instead forces multiple playthroughs of missions that you’ve already completed in order to advance. You see, when you complete a stage with a particular tank, you earn a medal. Medals are used to unlock new tanks, but are also needed in order to access later missions. The thing is, you don’t earn enough medals in a solitary trip through each mission in order to get later stages to open up. So to get a new medal from a mission, you must complete it with a different tank, and each mission has a medal available for each tank, which as far as I can tell looks to equal nearly two dozen. Granted, each mission can be played in a few minutes, but get ready to hit the same missions over and over again to unlock new ones in order to play those multiple times as well.
I think the biggest draw for people will be the multiplayer component, particularly the My Kong and the Monster Battle modes, as they’re the most enjoyable of the lot. Having more stages to play through in Monster Battle would’ve been nice, though if there were some form of online component (there’s not), any amount of DLC could’ve been offered to address this. Bottom line: While the game is technically replayable, it’s forced upon you by the game. The problem is, will most people want to replay the content to the level that the game expects you to? For me (and likely others), the answer is no.
Replayability Rating: Bad
Despite how easy it is to learn the controls, the enemies can actually get quite punishing in the later stages. Not only are you concerned with your own survival, trying not to squander lives and attack only when you’re at least risk, but you’re also racing against the clock. Having a second player helps soften the blow a bit, since the computer controlled ally you’re given doesn’t seem to act as more than a distraction and quickly becomes monster fodder. Repeating older missions to power your tank up and adapting your strategy to whatever tank you’re trying to conquer a mission with will eventually get you through it, so you never feel cheated by a defeat.
Balance Rating: Above Average
Tank! Tank! Tank! gets points just for being a game that prominently features tanks. There aren’t enough of these, and although there are a ton of games that have tanks in them (such as practically every first-person shooter ever made), none make these steel behemoths the primary center of focus. The My Kong mode was also a unique approach to adapting this game to the Wii U in such a way that would be hard to emulate on any other console. Beyond that though, the simplistic gameplay can be (and has been) replicated just by replacing the tanks and robotic monsters with virtually anything else, so that drops things down a notch.
Originality Rating: Mediocre
Despite how apprehensive I was at the lack of depth found here, I did enjoy my time with Tank! Tank! Tank! as it’s easy to pick up and play for short bursts, doesn’t require a lot of thought, and is a lot better with others. It’d have been nice not to be forced into replaying missions right away at the beginning, but that aside, experimenting with unlockable tanks as a result of the grind was still a joy. Anyone looking for some sort of narrative or a really in-depth campaign will be disappointed, however.
Addictiveness Rating: Above Average
As enjoyable as this title can be, it would’ve been better served as a cheaper priced, downloadable release rather than a full on retail game. The retail and digital realms have two different expectations tied to them, and having a game like this at full price in the store is only going to bring disappointment to those not expecting to grind out medals for hours at a time. It still serves well as a party game, and fans of the arcade version will be delighted at the new content, but you really have to enjoy arcade titles to get into it. It does serve as a great introductory title for kids though, not to mention a fun game for families to get together on.
Appeal Rating: Mediocre
Aside from the My Kong mode, the Wii U gamepad isn’t utilized to much of an extent. It displays some information about your tank on the touchscreen and will flash red when you take damage, but outside of multiplayer when it serves as Player One’s screen, it’s basically unneeded. Heck, even just the other buttons on the controller not favored by your trigger finger will go unused.
One feature I did find amusing, though, is prior to starting a game, be it solo or as a group, is the game’s insistence on taking your picture. You get to choose from a selection of different overlays for your portrait, such as hats, sunglasses, or even animal costumes. When you snap your photo, whatever outfit you picked out will sit over the top, and the final product will become your portrait for the entirety of your session. Playing by yourself, you can even create multiple photos of yourself to utilize for the computer controlled tanks. It’s a small detail, but it’s fun to mess around with, and you’ll often find it’s hard to play some matches because you are so distracted by the goofy faces onscreen that you yourself put there.
One last slightly humorous detail: if you require further elaboration on any of the gameplay mechanics, keep in mind that the document labeled â€œInstruction Manualâ€ that comes with the game will tell you to consult the in-game manual accessible from the Wii U’s Home button. It may just as well have said â€œGoogle it.â€
Miscellaneous Rating: Mediocre
Story/Modes: Above Average
Sounds: Above Average
Balance: Above Average
Addictiveness: Above Average
Appeal Factor: Mediocre
Final Score: Mediocre Game!
Short Attention Span Summary
Based on an arcade title of the same name, Tank! Tank! Tank! gives you exactly what the title implies: lots of tanks. However, the gameplay is simplified to the point where only two buttons are required, resulting in a setup that opens the door to players of all skill levels, but loses some depth in the process. If you can get past the lack of utility at your disposal and the repeat playthroughs of missions in order to progress, you’ll find a hectic game buried underneath that works well as a party game. The Wii U gamepad doesn’t do much outside of a one vs. three minigame and plastering your face onscreen using the camera, but these concepts work well as a novelty if nothing else, and add an extra layer to the goofiness that the game is going for. It may have been better served as an eShop game, but those willing to pony up the cash will find an entertaining, if a bit limited, experience in Tank! Tank! Tank!